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DPD's handling of gangs, guns helps decrease crime in Detroit

Program targets illegal firearms

DETROIT – A federal program called Ceasefire is a way to target illegal firearms in heavy crime areas by making using those guns a federal felony.

It's had success in major cities across the country, but Detroit police took it a step further.

"In 2015, we probably removed at least 50 people from this precinct alone that were very violent trigger-pulling people," Detroit Police Capt. Eric Decker said.

Police followed up by identifying those in the 17-30 age range with gang affiliation who were on probation or parole, and offered them a way out.

"We provide a complete wrap-around effect," Quincy Smith, a Ceasefire team member who isn't a cop, said. "We engage them on a daily basis."

Smith's specialty is urban education, but there are others on the team who have done time, as well as a minister. They act as mentors the young men can't shake. They offer a path to education, job training and even food or diapers if they have children of their own.

The hub of the program is Goodwill Industries Flip The Script, run by Keith Bennett and his team.

"The first thing I tell them is this is an opportunity, don't miss it," Bennett said. "We're not asking you to be perfect. We're asking you to gradually change and transform."

In Detroit's 9th Precinct, where Decker and the rest of his officers are invested in the program, they've seen their nonfatal shooting numbers nearly halved, as well as a modest decrease in homicides.

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